Nautilus launches ads to direct consumers to retailers, clubs

In a move with a multi-million-dollar price tag, Nautilus has launched the beginnings of a multimedia advertising campaign that will direct consumers directly to clubs and specialty retailers who are Nautilus customers.

In a move with a multi-million-dollar price tag, Nautilus has launched the beginnings of a multimedia advertising campaign that will direct consumers directly to clubs and specialty retailers who are Nautilus customers.

"This is a play to showcase the people who are partners of ours," Tim Hawkins, Nautilus chief customer officer, told SNEWS®. "This is a never-been-done-before" for a manufacturer to tell the public how to reach specialty retailers.

The campaign, which begins this month with print ads in Oxygen, Fitness and Shape magazines, is expected to grow through 2004 and into 2005 to include both TV as well as Internet advertising, Hawkins said.

"We're looking at a multi-tier campaign," he said. "We're slowly turning on this thing."

One of the first ads has a picture of a woman on a weight machine – no wimpy and gorgeous model here but a strong and pretty woman who is still a type many women could identify with -- with the imbedded words "Be Strong." The copy headline says: "Your Will, Our Machine. The copy continues: "You know that success depends on getting results. We feel that way too, which is why every piece of fitness equipment we make is designed to a higher standard. Truth is, only Nautilus brand fitness equipment has optimal strength curve technology™. So, if you're not using Nautilus, you may not be getting the best results. If your gym or fitness store isn't a Nautilus supplier, find one." The tagline reads: "Nautilus: Be Strong."

Hawkins said the campaign could run the company many millions of dollars -- "It's greater than $5 million but less than $20 million."

Plus, it is a way to leverage the name of the Nautilus brand to consumers who know and recognize it, and to use the direct-to-consumer logistics built by the company for its other channels and products in a way that can also benefit its commercial and home retail channels.

"We have a 15-year-old sleeping giant in the Nautilus brand," Hawkins said. "We've done nothing in 15 years to invest in it.

"We're beginning to tell consumers in a professional and direct way that if your club or retailer doesn't carry Nautilus, you're not getting the best workout," he said about the campaign's message.

The ads will tell the public to visit the website, where they will be able to look up or be referred to a club or specialty dealer near them.

"We're putting our best dealers and clubs in that database," said Hawkins, who said it is being finalized now and couldn't say how many it will include. He did say the likes of Leisure Fitness (Delaware), 24 Hour Fitness and The Fitness Store (Southern California) are three examples.

Mike Cirillo, president of The Fitness Store, told SNEWS® that this is the start of consumer outreach that is much needed in the industry, partly in light of increased competition for other channels. He said he'd like to see manufacturers band together and put some money into similar advertising that would benefit the entire industry and not necessarily be brand-specific.  

"We need," Cirillo said, "the people to come to our store."

And, as Hawkins put it, "What's important is that the specialty fitness business continues to grow. We need the specialty fitness business to be a viable channel."

SNEWS® View: Aside from directing its well-oiled machine and a few million bucks into promotions direct to consumers, Nautilus is doing something more – intended or not – that goes beyond a benefit to its own till. Many Joe and Jane Q. Publics don't even know what specialty fitness stores are, let alone where to find one. This campaign will lead them to their doors and show them the expertise and the depth and quality of equipment inside. They may buy Nautilus equipment; then again, they may not. Either way, if the retailer does his or her job well, that person will be back to shop and to buy again – gloves, bands, accessories, different equipment, you name it. And that can promote, build and nurture the specialty business. We congratulate Nautilus on this step that should be a win-win (the ads are beautiful yet strong at the same time too). And perhaps it can be the seed that could someday grow into a tree cared for jointly by all manufacturers that grows industry-wide campaigns like 1-800-DENTIST or the Raisin Advisory Board – outreach to the public as a whole that benefits the industry in its entirety. Heck, if prunes and "the other white meat" can do it, why can't fitness?


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